Search:
Submit Search


Audio interface for a small, confined case

Connecting Hauptwerk to MIDI organs, sequencers, ...

Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby high5ths » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:09 pm

Hello, I have a small Hauptwerk portative for baroque continuo playing, and I'm trying to find a good audio interface for inside. I started with an M-Audio ProFire 610 but "upgraded" to a Cymatic Audio LP-16 (and now the M-Audio is missing drivers for my Mac). I've recently had lots of speaker feedback (audio crackles and things), and I'm thinking maybe it's the Cymatic. I've also been experiencing random MIDI keyboard dropouts — notes/chords not sounding — that I might be able to blame on the Cymatic. I'm wondering if anyone can recommend an audio interface to try that might be better shielded than the Cymatic?

I have currently 6 small speakers and two monitors in the small case, so everything is pretty tight inside. I'm also open to recommendations on ways to shield the cabling or electronics — or if I should be thinking about different speakers that would be better shielded? The speakers are plugged into the Cymatic with 1/4" cables.

I've had few audio issues before I started using the Cymatic interface, so I'm hopeful that a more expensive interface might give me better results. I'm using a Mac with USB and Thunderbolt ports, I need one MIDI port, and ideally 6-10 audio outs. I'm willing to spend whatever it takes, if I can avoid more speaker feedback...


Thanks for your time. More detailed list of gear is below if it's helpful.

Sincerely,

Jeff


PMX61 Keyboard by Phoenix Organs
6 small speakers (powered): AudioEngine A2+
2 monitors (powered): AudioEngine A5+
MacBook Pro (13" Retina, Late 2013, MacBookPro10,2 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB)
Hauptwerk (most often running Sonus Paradisi's Claviorganum, 2.6 GB RAM consumption)
SurgeX SA-1810 Standalone Surge Eliminator (120 Volt/15 Amp Advanced Series Mode Surge Protector and EMI/RFI Noise Filter)


If you're curious:
Image
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSGH4QGDdiU (example, from before the organ doors were carved)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6icEFFboy7Y (post-organ doors)
Last edited by high5ths on Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.
high5ths
Member
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 12:42 am
Location: New York City

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby magnaton » Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:07 pm

Hi Jeff:

I don't think the Cymatic interface is your issue with "audio cracks and things". I'd focus on your MacBook as these audio artifacts appear when the CPU spikes or you hit the upper RAM limit or polyphony limit. Bring up the "Audio, MIDI, and Performance" menu in Hauptwerk and watch the meters when you get these audio cracks. You might even try a different (better quality) USB cable in your troubleshooting steps. Another test you can do is try loading Hauptwerk's default St. Anne's organ with just a single stop and see how that behaves since that would barley use any memory.

Another thing to look at is volume settings. I'm not that familiar with Cymantic but it I'm thinking it should have some native application where you can setup the individual channel volumes and such. These might be set to high. It's hard to imagine getting an audio "feed back" in the digital realm but I guess it's possible if you have some sort of duplicate routes in place and the output (or input) is too hot.

Finally, review that you are using the correct and latest driver for the Cymantic interface.

Danny B.
User avatar
magnaton
Member
 
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:28 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby high5ths » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:50 pm

Thanks, Danny, for those suggestions!

I'm certainly willing to believe it's the computer's fault, though I've been using this same computer since 2013. Do you think a Thunderbolt audio interface could result in fewer audio issues? I had nothing like these speaker problems during the years I was using the M-Audio 610 with this computer (using a Firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter). The only thing that has changed in the system recently has been the Cymatic, and like I mentioned, I definitely have found some MIDI issues through it which I have currently solved using an ancient MidiSport 1x1, so I'm a little distrustful at the moment. I'll try a more expensive USB cable — I'll try anything at this point.

The organ I use most of the time is the Sonus Paradisi's Claviorganum, which only has 2.6 GB RAM consumption (nothing else is running). Hauptwerk reports 5.5 GB free RAM (2 bars lit up; I have 8 GB RAM), with a single bar lit up in Audio and nothing in CPU or Polyphony (literally no bars lit up) as I practice. This is the organ I use for most things, so I don't think this has to do with CPU/RAM/polyphony. I'm only practicing Bach continuo parts with one stop turned on, so we're talking very light work here.

The Cymatic has no volume settings, actually; it's plug-and-play on the Mac, with no driver or anything. Hauptwerk just sees its 16 outputs. So there's no way for me to adjust the Cymatic volume, unless I adjust the individual "outs" in Hauptwerk. Actually this whole week I have been practicing in my living room very quietly, so I don't think that's causing this either. The audio issues are incredibly sporadic, but when the speakers do start crackling, hissing, and popping, it's basically unusable as a musical instrument.

I need to figure out how to make the organ more reliable in concerts.

Thanks again for your time.
high5ths
Member
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 12:42 am
Location: New York City

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby csw900 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:27 am

Hi high5ths

I have quite a lot of experience of audio systems in general and the most likely cause of audio feedback is an open microphone somewhere. Does your Mac have a built in microphone? Mine does. I suggest you stick a thick piece of tape over it and see if it makes any difference. You SHOULD be able to turn the mic gain down to zero by using the Mac's audio (software) controls (I have not tried this myself).

Feedback can also be caused if you have any connections which can route audio output back to the input, screening is not usually needed here, because levels are high, but if the computer is improperly set up audiowise this route can become active.

As far as crackles are concerned the most like cause is bad or loose connections. Move cables and plugs about to see if anything causes crackles. Be aware that these loose connection could be inside your computer or other electronics that you are using. Give them a good hard knock to check this.

None of this has anything to do with HW which in my experience simply does not suffer from these issues.

Regarding midi to usb connections on the Mac - this is a serious issue on my iMac, the built in usb drivers and virtual cables simply do not work well with organs. Midi events get lost, particularly when a lot of events happen at the same time, which can cause no end of problems.

csw900
User avatar
csw900
Member
 
Posts: 201
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:40 am
Location: UK

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby IainStinson » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:07 am

Just a thought, check the external power supply for the Cymatic audio interface. I’ve had problems with the external power supplies particularly if they are regularly unplugged and moved around. An intermittent power supply fault could cause the sorts of problems you are experiencing. Gently pull and shake the power supply connection whilst playing and listen...

Good luck.

Iain
User avatar
IainStinson
Member
 
Posts: 746
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:08 pm
Location: NW England, UK

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby IainStinson » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:36 am

You should also check each of the audio leads and connectors linking the audio interface to the speakers, these can develop intermittent faults if they are frequently setup and taken down - some are not very robust.
Iain
User avatar
IainStinson
Member
 
Posts: 746
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:08 pm
Location: NW England, UK

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby TheOrganDoc » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:32 pm

I would like to offer two recommendations, In Hauptwerk with organ loaded there is a page that we have to set Midi, Inputs and Outputs, be sure that Output boxes are not ticked at the same time as Inputs, as there are reports of damaging feedback from this ! I recommend that you check the recommendations in "Hauptwerk's Online User manual", as there is a section that is dedicated to these problems ! Be sure to let us know of the success with your problems ! Mel
Mel..............TheOrganDoc...............
User avatar
TheOrganDoc
Member
 
Posts: 781
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:13 pm
Location: South East, Florida, USA

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby high5ths » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:52 pm

I'm grateful for all these replies!

The problems are maddeningly inconsistent, though I was able to try a number of these today when the audio issues returned, and I was able to make a short recording of the problem. I've turned down mic inputs, checked cables, etc. Here's what the "distortion" sounds like — at the end of the clip, after I have restarted audio/MIDI in Hauptwerk, you can hear the organ sounds fine. Link to Soundcloud.

As I played, all 8 speakers exhibit the same kind of distortion (i.e., as I move from treble to bass, I heard the distorted sound through different speakers). As I held down notes, I checked the connections into the Cymatic interface, into the speakers, and all the power cables. Nothing changed the distortion until I opened Hauptwerk's "MIDI Ports" window to check the inputs/outputs to make sure no device was checked as both input & output. Only the Hauptwerk AU/VST Link was checked for Sequencer MIDI In and Sequencer MIDI out (I've never used the AU/VST link). I unchecked those two items and closed the window, audio and MIDI re-started in Hauptwerk, and the distortion was gone.

I'm now trying with the Cymatic plugged into the other USB port on my MacBook, since it sounds that there's some bad USB thing happening. Maybe there's something wrong with that particular USB port. Again I wonder if Thunderbolt would be more reliable? Something like the FocusRite Clarett 8Pre 18x20 would be overkill for my little portative.

Update: A few hours after plugging the Cymatic into the other USB port, I had the same sort of audio problem. I wasn't even playing; I heard some noise from across the room and went to investigate. You can hear the quiet noise when I'm not playing anything, but the much more obvious issue when I play any notes. Here's a recording of that — and at 35 seconds in, I reset Hauptwerk's audio (Engine->Turn off all organ keys // Engine->Reset organ/MIDI // Engine->Restart audio/MIDI) and then everything is perfect again...
high5ths
Member
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 12:42 am
Location: New York City

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby TheOrganDoc » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:42 pm

The only other thing I can think of at this moment is when you selected the ranks you loaded, did you by chance select blower noise, "I hope not" you could go to the Voicing page and lower the offending slider to 0 or near 0 if you prefer. Mel :D



high5ths wrote:I'm grateful for all these replies!

The problems are maddeningly inconsistent, though I was able to try a number of these today when the audio issues returned, and I was able to make a short recording of the problem. I've turned down mic inputs, checked cables, etc. Here's what the "distortion" sounds like — at the end of the clip, after I have restarted audio/MIDI in Hauptwerk, you can hear the organ sounds fine. Link to Soundcloud.

As I played, all 8 speakers exhibit the same kind of distortion (i.e., as I move from treble to bass, I heard the distorted sound through different speakers). As I held down notes, I checked the connections into the Cymatic interface, into the speakers, and all the power cables. Nothing changed the distortion until I opened Hauptwerk's "MIDI Ports" window to check the inputs/outputs to make sure no device was checked as both input & output. Only the Hauptwerk AU/VST Link was checked for Sequencer MIDI In and Sequencer MIDI out (I've never used the AU/VST link). I unchecked those two items and closed the window, audio and MIDI re-started in Hauptwerk, and the distortion was gone.

I'm now trying with the Cymatic plugged into the other USB port on my MacBook, since it sounds that there's some bad USB thing happening. Maybe there's something wrong with that particular USB port. Again I wonder if Thunderbolt would be more reliable? Something like the FocusRite Clarett 8Pre 18x20 would be overkill for my little portative.

Update: A few hours after plugging the Cymatic into the other USB port, I had the same sort of audio problem. I wasn't even playing; I heard some noise from across the room and went to investigate. You can hear the quiet noise when I'm not playing anything, but the much more obvious issue when I play any notes. Here's a recording of that — and at 35 seconds in, I reset Hauptwerk's audio (Engine->Turn off all organ keys // Engine->Reset organ/MIDI // Engine->Restart audio/MIDI) and then everything is perfect again...
Mel..............TheOrganDoc...............
User avatar
TheOrganDoc
Member
 
Posts: 781
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:13 pm
Location: South East, Florida, USA

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby csw900 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:31 am

Your problem is very weird.

Memory errors can cause weird problems, I suggest you test your computer's memory - there should be NO errors. Even one error can cause unpredictable problems.

csw900
User avatar
csw900
Member
 
Posts: 201
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:40 am
Location: UK

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby murph » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:32 am

Listening to the files, it sounds like a buffering problem. This could be:

Wrong sample rate at the interface. HW may not be changing it properly/it may not be responding....

Too low a buffer in HW/the interface. Try making it longer.

Memory problems. Try removing the modules and cleaning the contacts (gently!!!). Alcohol is good for this (the clear type).

Tony
murph
Member
 
Posts: 577
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:45 pm

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby Tweedle_Dee » Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:47 pm

What a lovely little instrument! Do you have more pictures posted somewhere? I'd love to see them. I'm currently working on a Hauptwerk positiv myself, but not nearly as ornate.

I actually have a very similar problem with my setup (not the positiv) on occasion using a MOTU mk4 interface. I only use it for practice and it happens very occasionally, so I haven't spent the time to chase it down, but I believe it started when I bought the MOTU. I've sort of assumed it was a driver issue. I run my audio through Reaper and I found that opening up preferences and refreshing the sample rate fixes it - temporarily. I also have the audio just drop out completely as well on occasion. I haven't tried restarting the audio engine within Hauptwerk.

I know the Claviorganum runs at 44.1KHz. Are you having to change between sample rates often? Does that appear to contribute to the problem?

I will play with my setup a little today and see if I can find any clues.
Tweedle_Dee
Member
 
Posts: 129
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:58 pm
Location: Rainy side of Oregon

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby high5ths » Sat Mar 09, 2019 5:43 pm

Thanks for these new ideas!

The Cymatic and Hauptwerk do display the correct sample rate (44.1 kHz) for the Claviorganum, and they both correctly show 48 kHz for the Rotterdam Laurenkerk. I didn't even think about sample rates — is there another way to confirm that the sample rate is being set correctly, if Hauptwerk and the Cymatic both display the correct rate?

I increased the audio buffer from the default 1024 to the maximum 1152. This feels like a big buffer for the simple organ playing I'm doing! But I'll try anything.

I just finished RAM tests and they showed 0 errors — both Apple's hardware test and a full MemTest86 regimen.

TheOrganDoc: I do have blower noise turned on (I need it to make the portative sound real!) and at least that does help me hear when these audio problems begin...


Tweedle_Dee: As for more pictures, here are a few. (It does have a real music desk, but it's a pain to screw on/off so I tend not to use it.) The organ case was built by organ maker John Bennett, to my specs. His wife did all the beautiful fretwork; originally we left the doors of the case undecorated, but when I started to use it more for concerts I led, I needed to make that side of the instrument pretty, too. :) The instrument is designed to be small enough to move in a large sedan or SUV, since I live in New York City and don't own a car. The keyboard comes out and I move it in a separate case.

It's been incredibly successful in performance — fooling just about everybody who doesn't think too hard about how small it is. I wish I had a keyboard that was closer in touch/key size to a portative. This is a beautiful keyboard but it feels like a big organ. Other than these darned audio problems and the keyboard, it's been great, but the last few times I've used it, I've had issues that have made me reset the audio in the middle of a piece, and that's really not okay. I'm grateful for all the replies, and like I keep saying, I will do just about anything to try to make the instrument more reliable.
Last edited by high5ths on Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
high5ths
Member
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 12:42 am
Location: New York City

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby engrssc » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:07 pm

Do you have access to (borrow) a totally different computer to substitute for a (test) period of time?

Rgds,
Ed
User avatar
engrssc
Member
 
Posts: 5817
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:12 pm
Location: Roscoe, IL, USA

Re: Audio interface for a small, confined case

Postby high5ths » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:18 pm

Hi, Ed,
engrssc wrote:Do you have access to (borrow) a totally different computer to substitute for a (test) period of time?


I don’t, really... I could buy a new computer to test for a couple weeks, but reports of audio problems with new Macs make me think that won’t improve things. (It seems like these are related to the T2 chip securing new Macs.)
high5ths
Member
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 12:42 am
Location: New York City

Next

Return to Audio / MIDI interfacing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: magnaton and 4 guests